No patient infected with a new Omicron variant, said to be driving China's current surge of COVID-19 cases, has been detected so far in Maharashtra, but thermal screening will be conducted for air passengers arriving from countries where the variant has been found, Heath Minister Tanaji Sawant said on today.
Talking to reporters in Nagpur, where the winter session of the state legislature is currently going on, Sawant said he has asked officials to remain alert and emphasis on tracking, testing and vaccination.
"No patient infected with the new variant (of Omicron) has been found in the state yet," he said.
Three cases of the Omicron subvariant BF.7, apparently the strain driving China's current surge of coronavirus cases, have been detected in India so far - two from Gujarat and one from Odisha.
Sawant said thermal testing will be done at airports of those arriving from countries where the highly transmissible variant has been reported.
Symptomatic patients will be isolated and their swab samples will be collected, stated the minister.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will hold a meeting of state health ministers on the issue on Thursday, he said.
Separately, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis will hold a separate meeting with health department officials on Thursday, Sawant said.
BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.
The first case of BF.7 in India was detected in October by the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)